Morocco quake toll crosses 1,000, over 1,200 injured; world leaders express grief

News Network
September 9, 2023

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A powerful earthquake in Morocco has killed more than 1,000 people and injured hundreds more, the country's deadliest tremor in more than six decades, toppling houses in remote mountain villages where rescuers dug through rubble for survivors.

The Moroccan government says death toll in earthquake near Marrakech has reached 1,037, with more than 1,200 injured.

The magnitude 7.2 quake struck in Morocco's High Atlas mountains late on Friday night. Most of the fatalities are in mountainous areas outside Marrakech, the nearest city to the epicentre, its updated toll showed.

Residents of Marrakech, the nearest big city to the epicentre, said some buildings had collapsed in the old city, a UNESCO World Heritage site, and local television showed pictures of a fallen mosque minaret with rubble lying on smashed cars.

The Interior Ministry, in its televised statement on the death toll, urged calm and said the quake had hit the provinces of Al Haouz, Ouarzazate, Marrakech, Azilal, Chichaoua and Taroudant.

Montasir Itri, a resident of the mountain village of Asni near the epicentre, said most houses there were damaged. "Our neighbours are under the rubble and people are working hard to rescue them using available means in the village," he said.

Further west, near Taroudant, teacher Hamid Afkar said he had fled his home and there had been aftershocks following the initial quake.

"The earth shook for about 20 seconds. Doors opened and shut by themselves as I rushed downstairs from the second floor," he said.

Morocco's geophysical centre said the quake struck in the Ighil area of the High Atlas with a magnitude of 7.2. The US Geological Survey put the quake's magnitude at 6.8 and said it was at a relatively shallow depth of 18.5km.

Ighil, a mountainous area with small farming villages, is about 70km southwest of Marrakech. The quake struck just after 11pm (3am UAE time).

The earthquake is Morocco's deadliest since a 2004 tremor near Al Hoceima in the northern Rif mountains which killed over 600 people.

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World leaders react

Leaders worldwide have expressed their condolences and offered to help in the aftermath of the devastating earthquake in Morocco, which claimed the lives of at least 600 people. The 6.8-magnitude quake struck a mountainous area 72 kilometres southwest of tourist hotspot Marrakesh at 11:11 pm Friday, the US Geological Survey reported.

European leaders offered condolences, as did Russian President Vladimir Putin and Arab countries, including Saudi Arabia, the UAE, and Egypt, along with the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation. French President Emmanuel Macron said he was “devastated" by the earthquake in Morocco. “We are all devastated after the terrible earthquake in Morocco," Macron said on X, formerly known as Twitter, while onboard a flight to the G20 summit in India. “France stands ready to help with first aid."

Benjamin Netanyahu, the prime minister of Israel which established diplomatic ties with Morocco in 2020, ordered “any necessary assistance." Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez offered solidarity and support to the people of Morocco in the wake of this terrible earthquake. “Spain is with the victims of this tragedy and its families," he wrote on X.

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News Network
June 3,2024

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Mumbai: The 27-year-old daughter of senior bureaucrats died after jumping off a Mumbai high-rise in the early hours of Monday, the police said.

Lipi Rastogi, the daughter of Maharashtra cadre IAS officers Radhika and Vikas Rastogi, was taken to hospital but died during treatment.

Officials said Lipi, a law student, jumped from the 10th floor of a building near the state secretariat at around 4 am. 

The police recovered note from her room. Officials said the probe is under way to ascertain the reason behind the act.

Lipi was studying law in Haryana's Sonepat. According to police officers, she was believed to be anxious about exams.

Vikas Rastogi is Principal Secretary in Maharashtra's Education Department, while Radhika Rastogi is Principal Secretary in the state's Home Department.

In a similar case in 2017, Maharashtra cadre IAS officers Milind and Manisha Mhaiskar lost their 18-year-old son after he jumped off a Mumbai high-rise.

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News Network
June 12,2024

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At least 30 workers were among dozens killed in a massive fire that broke out in a building housing workers in the city of Mangaf in southern Kuwait early Wednesday. According to the Health Ministry, the blaze also injured nearly 50 workers.

In a post on X, Prime Minister Narendra Modi offered condolences to the families of those killed in the fire. "The fire mishap in Kuwait City is saddening. My thoughts are with all those who have lost their near and dear ones. I pray that the injured recover at the earliest. The Indian Embassy in Kuwait is closely monitoring the situation and working with the authorities there to assist the affected," he said.

Condoling the deaths, External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar said he was "deeply shocked" and that the Indian ambassador had gone to the camp.

"Deeply shocked by the news of the fire incident in Kuwait City. There are reportedly over 40 deaths and over 50 have been hospitalised. Our Ambassador has gone to the camp. We are awaiting further information," he said in a post on X.

Jaishankar further expressed condolences to the victims' families and wished the injured people early and full recovery.

Meanwhile, the Indian ambassador in Kuwait Adarsh Swaika met a number of injured workers and assured them of full assistance from the Embassy, the Indian embassy in Kuwait posted on X.

The Indian embassy has also put out an emergency helpline number and has people to connect over the helpline for updates.

"In connection with the tragic fire accident involving Indian workers today, Embassy has put in place an emergency helpline number: +965-65505246. All concerned are requested to connect over this helpline for updates. Embassy remains committed to render all possible assistance," the Indian embassy in Kuwait posted on X.

Action against owner

The building, which accommodates over 195 labourers from the nearby commercial area, housed people from Kerala, Tamil Nadu and North India. The building belongs to NBTC group owned by Malayali businessman KG Abraham. Employees at NBTC's supermarket also lived in the building.

Kuwait Deputy Prime Minister Fahad Yusuf Al-Sabah visited the site and ordered a police inquiry in the matter. He has instructed the police to detain the owner of the building, its janitor, and the employer of the workers living there until the conclusion of the criminal investigation into the fire. 

He has also directed the Kuwait Municipality and the Public Authority for Manpower to take immediate action to address similar violations, where a large number of workers are crowded into residential buildings. 

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News Network
June 7,2024

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New Delhi: Narendra Modi - to be sworn in Sunday as a three-term Prime Minister after Chandrababu Naidu's TDP and Nitish Kumar's JDU dragged his BJP past the 272-seat majority mark - mocked eternal rivals Congress for failing to win as many seats in this election. The Congress, he declared, had yet again failed to cross the 100-seat mark and won fewer seats in three elections than the BJP had in one.

Mr Modi - whose party finished with 240 seats, its lowest return in 15 years - also said "we were neither defeated nor are we defeated" and claimed, "Our values are such we do not develop frenzy during victory and do not mock the defeated. We do not have perversion of mocking the defeated."

Mr Modi then taunted his rivals over their poor electoral performance.

"Even after 10 years Congress could not touch the figure of 100 seats. If we combine the 2014, 2019, and 2024 elections... Congress did not even get as many seats as BJP got in this election. I can clearly see people of INDI Alliance (the BJP's jibe at the INDIA bloc) were sinking slowly earlier... now they are going to sink at a faster pace..." the Prime Minister-designate proclaimed.

The Congress, which led the INDIA opposition bloc in this election, finished with 99 wins from the 328 seats it contested. That was the party's best result in 15 years; it won 44 in 2014 and 52 in 2019.

The last time the party scored in the triple digits was in 2009 when it won 206 seats and propelled former Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and the United Progressive Alliance to a second term.

Mr Modi's jibe, though, may be premature, for the Congress could still hit the 100-mark if Vishal Patil, a party rebel who contested and won from Maharashtra's Sangli, re-joins the party.

In a post on X this morning, Congress chief Mallikarjun Kharge said, "Welcoming the support of elected MP from Sangli, Shri Vishal Patil to the Congress party".

In a lengthy speech that included multiple jabs and jibes at the Congress and the opposition, Mr Modi also made a pitch for governance by consensus and coalition politics. "Our alliance reflects the spirit of India and we are dedicated to upholding constitutional values. NDA is the most successful..."

"When I was speaking in this House in 2019 you chose me as the leader. Then I emphasised one thing... trust. Today, when you are giving me this role again, it means the bridge of trust between us is strong. This relationship is built on a strong foundation... and that is its biggest asset."

The remarks are seen as acknowledgement of his reliance on allies - new territory after enjoying brute majorities in 2014 and 2019. The BJP needs the support of Chandrababu Naidu and Nitish Kumar. Mr Naidu's TDP and the JDU of Nitish Kumar are seen as kingmakers after the TDP and JDU won 28 seats; take those away and the NDA does not have the numbers to form the government.

"The mandate of 2024 is strengthening one thing again and again - the country trusts only NDA. When there is such unbreakable trust, it is natural for expectations to increase. This is good...I said earlier past 10 years were a trailer. It was not an election statement, it was my commitment..."

"For me, all leaders of all parties are equal in Parliament. When we talk about 'sabka prayaas', for us, everyone is equal, whether from our party or not. This is why NDA is strong in past 30 years..."

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